N.B. — Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them. — Ed.
The Jackie Stewart Diary
Perhaps you have read, or will have heard about the Jackie Stewart Diary in the Sunday Times. Last Sunday it concerned itself with the effects of the Jochen Rindt accident on those people intimately connected. For myself, I was nauseated by the screenplay style of the writing. But I found that by swallowing hard I could continue.
However, as I read on I became aware that I had read it or heard it all before. Could it be that I was brainwashed like the rest of the “kids” by the guff issued to the gullible daily press and Auntie—for money of course.
But no, Stewart is not the only motorist who aviates, and I remembered the magazine which I had picked up in the States for the return trip to the U.K. I have enclosed this magazine and invite you to read the article on the Rindt accident. My crew uncharacteristically returned the magazine to me.
Nobody will deny the grief that was felt when Rindt was killed, but I suggest that most people, certainly those in the public eye, would manage to keep their grief private, no matter how deep the wound.
For a friend to take money by syndicating the stage by stage account of the actions of those affected and intimately connected with the death is in my opinion the depth of bad taste. It is significant that it was written by one who is a novice in motor race reporting and aided and abetted by another who is educated in, and talks loudly about the things that delight the “new rich”.
There is little if anything in motor racing today for which I can thank Stewart. I have enjoyed the motor racing scene less and less since he arrived rattling his money box and waving his petitions. It appears that he is unable to distinguish between commercialism and professionalism, but he is not alone. In todays competitive motoring, standards and code of conduct of some of the better known racers borders on the football management mentality and the long haired semi-illiterate soccer “stars”.
For myself, the professionals who I know do the job with skill and professionalism because it is satisfying to do a job well and one owes it to one’s colleagues. They in turn are equally demanding of each other. It is unthinkable not to accept the challenge. To change the rules, to make it all safe and cosy, to complain about the risks in one’s chosen profession and then to demand more and more reward is just cheating.
Perhaps this insecure driver, diarist, emotional motorist, should concern himself with the less dangerous but equally lucrative world of Entertainment.
I am not a recent comer to the new world of “pop” racing. I came in when you did, and I own up that it is laziness that has prevented me from writing to you before now to acknowledge something that you had done, or had written about, and there is much that you have done and much that you have written about, and my reading, education and motoring has been made that much more enjoyable because of it. This time I had to write—or burst.
I hope I shall receive your friendly grin for many years more, whenever we pass in the paddock, for a total stranger it is very warming.
Emsworth. T. C. W. Peacock.
Squadron Leader, Royal Air Force.
Having just read the first instalment of “Jackie Stewart’s Diary” in the Sunday Times on the 18th June I feel that Denis Jenkinson’s comments in your magazine somewhat underrate the problem that motor racing has with Stewart. Now he states that he considers it necessary “to knock Out Spa and the Nurburgring and places like that” as if he has some crusade to carry out.
Really we have had enough of this timidity of his. I suggest that he retires to Switzerland and leaves motor racing to the men. I hope that your excellent magazine will see fit to defend the sport from Stewart’s attempts to eradicate all risk except that of his being run over on the way to his bank.
Parkgate G. W. Binks, C. Eng. M.I.C.E.
As a regular reader of Motor Sport I have become increasingly concerned by the element of bias that has crept into the columns of Correspondent Jenkinson concerning the efforts of some officials and drivers introducing safety factors into motoring sport and in particular against the reigning World Champion. Within the last 20 years we have been subjected to many advancements. Racing cars today are projectiles, they provide sport, they can be dangerous and for the successful driver they provide a lot of money, but is that any reason why his life and those of the spectators shouldn’t be made any safer? I know of many American Professional Golfers who earn much more than our field of Formula One drivers but is that any reason why they and their spectators should stand in a line and let Jack Nicklaus drive golf balls at them?
The issue your Correspondent raises about Jackie Stewart is one, that not knowing the background, I cannot comment upon, but there are always two sides to a story and it will be interesting to see if the GPDA take issue on this, even if only for accuracies sake as well as their own credence.
We all know Motor Racing is dangerous, it is also exciting, a good reason why so many pay to watch it—but there have been many incidents affecting the sport, concerning not only the drivers but also the spectators and many families bereaved due to a lack of thought and care—thus any efforts made to make the sport safer for spectator and driver alike should be applauded whether at the level of Grand Prix racing or the very popular level of club racing.
The price one pays for technology and success is high and neither is guaranteed, as all the constructors are finding today, and one wonders whether if it were not for John Player, Marlboro, Brooke Bond, Oxo and Yardley there would even be a starting list let alone a result. Where would the sport be without Shell, Esso and Elf? Mr. Jenkinson would do well to remember that even if it does sound like the profits list of the Financial Times, that is where the money comes from, and ultimately this expense has to be justified whether to Boards of faceless Directors or the all important Shareholders and if the objective is only to increase the awareness of the brand name, Mr. Jenkinson would do everyone in the sport whether they be drivers, constructors, or even the unsung mechanics good by helping the commercial enterprises achieve their objective through his column.
Club racing during the sixties was enjoyed by many of us in Scotland, just as now I enjoy watching it. Through being involved financially in sponsorship, I can also view the sport from a Commercial angle and the costs that are involved. Motor Sport is well known for its interesting, factual and fair reports—Denis Jenkinson a Correspondent, for his accuracy and observation. However, he is allowing his personal feelings to cloud his writings and in the interests of both the sport he writes about and the people who read it, should be guarded against.
Glasgow. S. W. Morrison.
Stewart answers his critics
I feel compelled to write in response to Jenkinson’s outburst in attacking me personally in your June issue.
I do not feel it is necessary for me in this letter to give details as to why certain GPDA members driving for Alfa Romeo and Ferrari entered to compete at Spa, wanted to sign a letter of agreement not to drive in the 1,000 km. race.
It is however important to me that your readers, a large proportion of whom must be keen supporters of modern motor racing and therefore desirous that the sport has a healthy, prosperous and safe future, see that what Jenkinson is trying to say is not necessarily justified. I try terribly hard devoting considerable time and effort to make motor racing as a whole for as many people as possible—officials, spectators, drivers and even journalists—safer than it has been in the past. The sport will never be totally safe, and I perhaps know that better than Mr. Jenkinson could ever know. But it is imperative that people act in a positive and constructive way to bring race-track safely, medical and fire-fighting facilities up to modern standards. It is very easy to sit on the fence and criticise—notoriously easy. You can always find faults in what the other people are doing, but at least they are doing something. All Mr. Jenkinson seems to do is lament the past and the drivers who have served their time in it. Few of them, however, are alive to read his writings.
If a present-day driver criticises a new modern racing facility he is often applauded by the Jenkinsons of this world as being made of the “good old stuff”, but if he condemns one of the old-established racetracks for lack of proper facilities, he is shot at by the same people and accused of trying to damage the sport or even of being cowardly.
It seems however that even Jenkinson is changing. A year ago he would not have allowed himself to say that I had every justification in doing anything concerning GP racing. Last month he was only concerned that I took an interest in long-distance sports-car racing.
What Denis Jenkinson thinks or says concerns me little. To me he is a fence-sitter, doing little or nothing to secure a future for our sport. The readers of Motor Sport, however, are much more important. I would like to say to them that whatever criticism I get will make no difference at all to my personal effort to make motor racing, of all classes, safer for as many people as possible within our sport.
There is nothing more tragically sad than mourning a man who has died under circumstances which could have been avoided had someone done something beforehand. It therefore always angers me to hear of people who oppose an effort to make our sport safer and therefore reduce the tragic losses that we have all painfully experienced. Such men to me are hypocrites, the only consolation being that in years to come they will probably be looked back on as cranks.
Whatever Mr. Jenkinson thinks, I am a racing driver who loves his sport. The sadness that I have seen and experienced, which could have been avoided, only makes it more detestable to me that your magazine is prepared to project within its pages the sort of thinking that is negative to efforts of others to make motor racing claim fewer lives.
Switzerland. Jackie Stewart.
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An inexpensive Jaguar
May I comment on the remark made in your May issue by Mr. G. M. Potter—namely, “the majority of your readers are not Jaguar owners and never will be (mainly due to finance)”.
I have owned many cars over a period of many years and my present Mk. II 2.4 Jaguar represents the 43rd car registered in my name. From a repair point of view, I have never had a more economical second-hand vehicle.
I bought it almost three years ago with just over 30,000 miles on the clock for less than 1/3 of the price of a new mini. During my three years with it I have added over 30,000 miles and the car is used 6 days a week, mostly in rush hour traffic. It is seldom garaged, starts instantly even after the coldest night. It will still do over 100 m.p.h. and when in overdrive will return 24 m.p.g.
The twin Solex carburetters seldom go out of tune and now—with over 60,000 miles to its credit, the engine is inaudible on tick-over. Body rust and corrosion are not in evidence and the interior is practically showroom standard.
It is true that repairs can be costly, but equally true that regular maintenance, of normal standard, will ensure many thousands of miles of trouble-free motoring. Regular changing of oil and filter appears to be all the engine demands, whilst a brake overhaul, carried out by someone knowledgeable, will ensure trouble-free and excellent braking for a very long time and even that notorious hand-brake can be made to lock the rear wheels!
On the debit side the engine takes ages to warm up—even with a winter thermostat; gear-changing is not for the impatient (but very pleasant when time is taken). Careless handling on slippery roads can bring about disconcerting tail-wagging, but all these failings are more than counterbalanced by the utter reliability, speed and comfort of these excellent cars.
When one considers the very modest figures asked for splendid examples of Mark II and S type Jaguars on the second-hand market, it is surprising that the less sophisticated types—manual gearbox, manual choke and non-power steering—are not more earnestly sought. Surely they must appeal to those who appreciate a semi-sports car built in the vintage tradition with the additional bonus in the form of every modern. refinement.
In conclusion, it is almost twenty years since I addressed a letter to you and make the point—with great pleasure—that my enjoyment of your excellent magazine is no less now that it was then.
Glasgow. J. R. B. Mackie.
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VW Beetle defenders
May I beg a few lines in your excellent journal to comment on the letter in the May issue from Mr. Thomas, entitled “VW Sorrows” ?
First, an initial high rate of depreciation after purchasing a new car is not confined to Volkswagen. This is understandable since the distributor has after all to dispose of the vehicle, and most customers offered a car with under 700 miles on the clock should be suspicious of its history and therefore reluctant to buy unless the price is tempting. I presume Mr. Thomas is not doubting the high resale value of older Volkswagens. Visiting a few used car showrooms should be enough to convince anyone.
Secondly, owning a VW Beetle of 1965 “vintage”, I do agree with Mr. Thomas that the standard of finish on newer models seems to be declining; but this again, in most instances, is not confined to Volkswagen.
Chesham. A. C. Buckwell.
In March 1966 I bought a 1300 Beetle for my wife for precisely the same reasons as those of Mr. Thomas. The cost then was £671. I bought an MG yesterday, and the garage offered me £300 in part exchange, which I rejected, because I have no doubt I shall get a much better price by selling it privately. Even at this, I cannot think that any English car would depreciate at only £62-per-annum over 38,000 miles.
In fact the history is as follows: New battery, £6; 2 new exhaust systems, £30; 2 sets brake drums, £100 (including relining brakes), 2 radial tyres for rear after 35,000, £16.
In comparing this with any other six-year-old, 38.000-mile car, I have ignored service every 3,000 miles, because all cars have to be serviced, and VW charges are lower than most.
The renewal of the exhaust system is logical, for a car used constantly for a lot of short journeys, but in fact I was rather shocked by brake drums having to be renewed after 15,000 miles. Is this the experience of other Beetle owners, I wonder ?
Certainly in 47 years’ motoring I have never before had to renew brake drums on any of my cars.
In ice and snow here, in blistering heat in the South of France, after being left unused once for a month, the Beetle has always started at the first touch. There has never been an involuntary stop. We have never even had a puncture.
A word of advice to all VW owners: fit radial ply tyres on the rear. This turns a dangerous car in wet weather into a supremely safe one. The difference in handling is incredible. I think Mr. Thomas bought a “rogue”, which is possible with any mass-produced car, though rare in the case of a Beetle, and he has my sympathy.
Bromley. W. J. D. Clarke.
How sad to read Mr. Thomas’ letter, “VW Sorrows”, in your May 1972 issue.
Since 1950 I have had pleasure from 23 Beetles, and would say this to any prospective buyer.
The Beetle was produced as a cheap reliable runabout of 1,131/1,192 c.c. engine capacity. Personally, and as a result of public demand, the Beetle was “tarted” up and I think this was a mistake. If you want a Beetle buy the cheapest, the 1200. I’ve tried the lot and returned after many years to a 1200 1963 version; it serves me well.
At £585 in 1967 I reckoned the 1200 basic to be the best buy in Britain and I bought one.
The 1500 I owned in 1968 was a disappointment in many ways. It was expensive (by comparison with the 1200) and certainly didn’t give 20% better performance. It certainly gave 33 1/3% poorer petrol consumption, and dear petrol too.
I’m stuck on VW Beetles, and only Beetles and only 1200 Beetles.
Charlton Mackrell. E. G. Clarke.
I would be grateful for the opportunity of correcting the impression left by your correspondent, Mr. E. W. B. Thomas. I was sorry to see his claim that his 1300 Beetle was not up to the usual high VW standards but I know that our dealership would have spared no efforts to ensure that it was brought up to those standards. Having “lost confidence” in the car, Mr. Thomas then appeared to be surprised that he was offered £800 for it by our dealership. Perhaps I should acquaint him with the facts of life. A total of £184.74 of the £972.24 purchase price that he paid was purchase tax. Surely he did not expect that to be returned by a sympathetic government. The fact remains that the dealership, in quoting £800, offered Mr. Thomas £12 of his purchase tax back. The car depreciated not one new penny.
Incidentally, the value of his car is quoted in the Used Car Guides some five months later at £790. Well, it hasn’t lost anything yet, Mr. Thomas, and there’s only one more month to go!
Purley. Chris Meakin.
Assistant Public Relations Officer
Volkswagen (GB) Ltd.
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There is a link—tenuous maybe—between your June front cover picture of the J.P. Special, your editorial comment on the “American Quarterly” lambaste and the India G.T. Radial tyre advertisement with the reaction it provoked.
Have we not in fact reached the stage where motoring, having been a national obsession for some time (it beats tea, the weather, football and beer combined) can now only be regarded as the ultimate farce ?
For one who knows little of the sophistication of racing cars, a glance at the J.P. Special brings to mind one of the fiendish vehicles out of “The Great Race”–Jack Lemmon at the controls. Will coloured sparks come from that super cowl thing on the engine any minute now ?
The four American journalists, with their vitriol and camp combined are just doing what you speculate—testing the strength of the joke. They will only howl even more with demented glee if we try and argue the relative merits of soap-bubble viscosity properties.
As for the India tyres—well, really,—did your correspondents expect anyone to take that ad. seriously ? Don’t they know that the only way to sell anything nowadays is to present it more ludicrously than the next man? India has a good ad. agency.
Of course the whole scene is a farce. The stripes, the stickers, the flake paint, the Prefects with oil-coolers, the Kustom Konsuls, the matt black bonnets, the fat tyres, the wheel arches, the burn-ups—just one great glorious, happy, hippy, howling, crazy, crashing scream.
The ones who really laugh are those that sell the stuff. The joke’s on us. Can we afford it ?
South Chard. D. H. Stead.
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Matt black Dolomites
Having read in this month’s issue of Motor Sport various letters complaining of degradation of quality marques, such as Rover, by vinyl roof covers, etc., I think I should bring to your notice another example.
In recent ads, for the new Triumph Dolomite, is printed in capital letters: “Isn’t it time you left the matt black, the stripes and the G.T. badges behind ? The Dolomite does”.
Does it ? The answer is no. It has a matt black grill, matt black panels behind the rear windows, and another matt black panel at the back between the rear lights! Moreover it has imitation alloy wheel trims—a classic “go faster” item.
No doubt it is an excellent car, but why spoil it by these pointless additions ? If they wanted it to be “sporty”, why not put a fastback body on and real alloy wheels ?
Congratulations on an excellent magazine. I could not agree more on your views about J. Y. Stewart; I think it is time someone spoke their mind about him and his attitudes. Thanks!
Ladbury. J. A. Dipple. [15 yrs]
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Another addition to your list of garages which give good service—Messrs. Forward Autos of St. Helens, who, When the (unbreakable) timing belt of a Fiat 124 coupé broke, and when the nearer and larger Fiat agents at 4.30 on a weekday did not want to know, turned out in the rain and towed me through seven miles of lorry-infested E. Lancs. road, and at their own suggestion worked on the car till a quarter to nine, so that I could make an appointment in London the next day. Incidentally, the timing has never been better set up.
Liss. G. J. Spence.
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Longevity and high mileage
On reading a piece in the May issue of Motor Sport concerning a Canadian who had run one car for an unusually high mileage over a period of years. I was reminded of an incident a year ago when my wife and I were in America for the purpose of seeing the “Indy 500” and also hearing some authentic jazz in New Orleans.
In order to see more of the ordinary Americans at close quarters, we travelled from Toronto to the Gulf of Mexico by Greyhound ‘bus—a long and interesting journey, made very comfortable by the air conditioning. On one occasion we covered over 600 miles in one day and felt quite fresh.
On one ‘bus, however, the air-conditioning was on the blink and people were complaining in very American phrases from the rear of the ‘bus. At a lunch stop, the driver, feeling ashamed that his bus should fail in any way when carrying a couple of foreign tourists (by the way, we never met another person from Britain), apologised, and to check his disappointment opened a box beneath the dash which enclosed the running records and odometer of the ‘bus. “Why”, he exclaimed, “I can’t understand it. It’s almost a noo vehicle. It’s only 18 months old—only done 260,000 miles”.
And he HADN’T got his tongue in his cheek! He assured me that more than a million miles was common for one ‘bus “before the trash trays had gotten full with empty coke bottles”.
Incidentally, we cannot speak too highly of this tremendous ‘bus network. There was always room, always fascinating things to see, and invariably dead on time, even though the ‘bus had come from Seattle or Acapulco. Our usual transport is an E-Type, but we could have done little better than the ‘bus in a country where the legal maximum is usually 60 m.p.h.
We would do it again.
Worsley. David W. Matheson.
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The ill-fated Singers
Further to your article and the correspondence on the subject I drove AVC 483 in the Belgian Grand Prix on the famous (or is it now infamous?) Spa-Francorchamps circuit in 1936.
My attention was first drawn to these cars during the 1935 Le Mans race, when I found that they had approximately the same performance as my 1 1/2-litre Frazer-Nash, which I was driving there at the time.
In 1936 I decided to try and get hold of one of these cars for the Le Mans race that year and Col. F. S. Barnes agreed to let me have one. However, due to strikes in France Le Mans was cancelled, so transferred the entry to the Belgian G.P., a 24-hour sports car race that year.
The car bore little resemblance to a standard Singer, but was none the worse for that. I have always understood that the three cars were designed to the ideas of S. C. H. Davis and really amounted to scaled down Aston Martins. Lightness was studied to extremes: the spare wheel was made of electron and could not be used, being carried merely to comply with the regulations.
We were a lone entry in the class and up against a horde of Fiats, headed by Gordini—never my favourite driver—and I think could have been more than a match for them if we had had the correct fuel. The car was designed to run on pure benzole, which was available at Le Mans but not Spa, so we suffered a blown gasket during the night. If we had lowered the compression ratio, we should not have been a match for the Fiats, but should have finished well up.
We had the fore-and-aft drag link and on the advice of Col. Barnes changed the steering ball joints the night before the race.
Tokers Green. Michael Collier.
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We refer to the item “Rumblings” in the June issue. This is excellent publicity for retreads and we must express our thanks to you for this article. Some slight confusion has arisen, however, which we should like to correct. The Association presently has 35 Members and Motorway Remoulds Ltd. are one of the ten largest retreaders in membership, thus serving automatically on the RMA Council.
We should also mention that to our knowledge, and in the instance quoted of the Trans Sahara Safari, tread compound supplied by Ondura Limited (another Council Member of the Association) was used by Motorway Rethoulds Limited.
Retread Manufacturers Association.
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That “Pomeroy Trophy” Rover 3500S
I was interested to read Mr. Terry’s letter re his Rover 3500 prototype. I, too had the possibility of buying one, previous to my departure for Italy. As I understood it, there were six cars; all made in 1966.
After serving Rovers purposes they were disposed of;
(1) To the tyre company for whom I work, for tyre tests;
(2) To the Competition Dept. for conversion into that racing saloon that appeared once;
(3) One written off;
(4) One still used at Rover for bodywork tests, I think.
(5) The Brico fuel injection car;
(6) ? ?
Perhaps someone with more knowledge can elucidate a little?
The car which I could have bought (JXC 611D, I seem to remember) had a basically Buick engine, 5-speed ZF gearbox and mixed 2000/3500 brakes and transmission and was left-hand-drive. The bodywork had originally several fibreglass parts but after a pair of substantial crashes these were replaced by the then standard Rover panels.
The problem with the car was that the engine was too much for the gearbox and regularly ruined front gearbox hearings, followed rapidly by oil seal and clutch.
These problems led to a decision not to buy and bring it to Italy despite the electrifying performance of this “Q car”. I have, instead, brought my old Rover 2000, which continues to function well with its original engine, clutch and gearbox after 127,000 miles.
Rovers here are considered well-made and comfortable but far too slow for the engine capacity, which is the main criterion for choice since circulation tax is punitive (Mini £12 p.a., Rover 2000 £43, Rover 3500 £123, Jaguar V12 £209 p.a.). Rover service here is good, certainly better than expected and much better in this area than Triumph and Jaguar. There are, of course, difficulties deriving from England but the main difference is the attitude of the agents to British Leyland and not vice versa. I feel that before we have much success in this part of the Common Market we should indulge in a little hire and fire of agents.
There are sales for our cars, as witness the success of Innocenti Mini.
Pino Torinese, Italy. J. R. Dalton.
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A useful hint
I recently found some very fine scratches on the windscreen of my 1966 Volvo Estate car. As it is a Triplex pattern, I wrote to Triplex Safety Glass Co. Ltd. in London.
Triplex replied immediately stating although the windscreen did not appear to be of their manufacture the scratches, front my description, “would appear to have been caused by particles of silica trapped in the rubber” (of the blade). With their reply was enclosed a small satchet of Jeweller’s rouge with instructions for its use. I applied the rouge and removed the scratches, I think such prompt and very helpful service deserves mention in your journal.
Keep up the good work!
Sheffield. Martin D. C. Dawson.
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I thought you and your readers would like to hear about some reliable and economical motoring.
Six and a half years ago we sold a Triumph TR3A and bought a Renault R10 1100. In that 6 1/2 Years and nearly 65,000 miles the only major replacements required were one front wheel bearing at 44,500 miles and a clutch thrust bearing at 57,000 miles (clutch plate replaced as a precaution). Two tyres had to be replaced due to punctures ruining the casing (both at over 45,000 miles) the remaining ones being the original Michelin X’s.
Having this car from new we kept an accurate account of all costs and including depreciation the running costs were just over 2p per mile.
The call of sporting motoring led us to recently replace the Renault with a Triumph GT6 Mk. 3 and at the time of replacement it was still giving 38 to 40 m.p.g. and 1,000 m.p.p. of oil.
The service from my small local Renault agent was always first class.
Chesham. N. J. Allen.
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A few words in praise of Chronosport service. The mainspring, in a watch I had bought from them, broke recently. Morgans of Cheapside (“famous for Watches”) said £3.50 and three weeks without knowing what was wrong with it.
Chronosport took five days and charged £1.20, including adjustment to a fly-hack hand. The Post Office then took six days to get it back to me!
This is the second time I have received such service and I recommend any of your readers who have purchased watches from Chronosport to deal directly with them. Usual disclaimers.
Farnborough. Patrick Whale.
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Having driven on Ontario roads for six years my reaction to Garry Coxall’s remarks is “Thank God that Ontario is the only place to try this dangerous system”.
A sense of lane discipline and an appreciation of their responsibilities are completely lacking in Ontario motorists. Direction indicators are rarely used and if they are, it is not to warn of an impending lane change but as a method of telling other motorists that the manoeuvre is half completed so “look out”.
The experience of travelling at speed on a multiple-lane highway and being overtaken simultaneously on both sides by two cars who then both pull to the centre lane without either looking or using indicators, while both drivers lean aganst their doors with one hand draped on the steering wheel, is frighteningly common.
Ontario motorists are, by far, the least educated and least interested that I have encountered and the rush hour traffic scene resembles a nightmare ballet.
Toronto, Canada. Robin Lewis.